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Jets in good spirits ahead of tilt with Canadiens

"This is a very tight knit group in here. We take care of each other." -Beaulieu

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - After the work was done in the 25-minute practice, it was time for some friendly competition to wrap up the session.

Although, head coach Paul Maurice wouldn't call it that.

"That was serious business there," he said with a grin.

The winners didn't have to skate two hard laps to finish the workday, while the losing group carved their way around Bell MTS Iceplex before working on individual skills.

Of course, it's easy to have a bit of fun after a big divisional win.

Video: PRACTICE | Paul Maurice

"That was a big one," Nathan Beaulieu said of the 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. "You never like losing two in a row, but once you get into that three-game skid it creeps into your head. I don't think there was a better opportunity for us going into a team coming off a road game, they're feeling pretty confident. I thought we did a really good job."

The victory improved the Jets to 6-3-1 against the Central Division this season and 12-3-0 following a loss.

Those numbers are important, as is Winnipeg's 21-13-2 record which puts them third in the Central, five points clear of the Minnesota Wild.

But what is also critical is what Maurice is hearing from his group on the bench.

"The bench is a good place for us right now. Even in our last two losses they say the right things. More importantly they mean them. They mean what they say on the bench about staying in the fight," said Maurice.

"The most important thing that happens with your NHL team is that room takes on a life of its own in a very positive way. That's being connected."

Video: PRACTICE | Nathan Beaulieu

The Jets are the third team Beaulieu has played for in his career. The close-knit feel this particular group has really stands out to him.

"You preach culture everywhere you go, but I feel like this is the first team that I've ever been on that we really practice it," said Beaulieu. "This is a very tight knit group in here. We take care of each other.

"It's like a family aspect in here. We have a lot of guys working toward the same goal."

On Tuesday night, the Jets face off with the Montreal Canadiens (17-13-6), the first of the three teams Beaulieu played for. He first wore the red, white, and blue of the Canadiens in the 2012-13 season and did so until the conclusion of the 2016-17 campaign.

Play 225 games with one team and relationships are bound to last, no matter where players end up.

"Me and Brendan Gallagher were really tight for three years. We drove to the rink everyday together," said Beaulieu. "I still talk to Shea Weber a lot. He's a good mentor to have. We still keep in close contact. There has been a lot of changes since I've been there, but the few guys that I was close with I still keep in close contact with."

The tilt with the Canadiens is the final game on the Jets' schedule before the three-day holiday break and will feature the return of former Jet Ben Chiarot to Bell MTS Place for the first time since he signed with Montreal in the off season.

Video: PRACTICE | Anthony Bitetto

Maurice has spoke on a couple occasions over the last week about how difficult it can be for players on both sides to focus on the game at hand with family in town or flight plans to finalize.

But bring an Original Six team to Winnipeg and that focus won't be hard to come by.

"The buzz in the building in Winnipeg matters. It gets going right around the national anthems," said Maurice. "There will only be one (anthem). There will be cheering for both teams. It'll be good. It's going to be an exciting game."


Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Luca Sbisa, and Gabriel Bourque didn't take part in Saturday's practice, but Maurice says all four are good to go for Tuesday night.

He was hoping Quebec product Mathieu Perreault would be able to play as well, but the Jets remain cautious with his upper-body injury.

"He's getting better. We're having good days now," said Maurice.

"It's possible that he might be ready for St. Louis. But even with that one, having three days off, we're being very cautious with anything that looks like any kind of symptoms. But he's had good days, so he's not far off I don't think."

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